The Daily Watchlist is a new project I’ll be working on to highlight the matches I watch day to day. Sometimes the matches will be current and other times they’ll be from the past. The matches I recommend will be highlighted on the bottom of the page. Today I watched eleven matches, two from NJPW and nine AJPW.
El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori vs Tiger Mask IV & Yuya Uemura
The Bullet Club shenanigans were kept to a minimum which was a pleasant surprise. Tiger made ELP look like a dork by putting him down to the mat on an attempted rope-walk which I loved. This wasn’t nearly as annoying as some ELP matches can be but it’s also not anything major that needs to be seen.
Birds of Prey vs Volador Jr. & Titán – Recommended
A strong showcase for Titán who has been popping off the screen in the early stages of the tournament. He hit Eagles with an incredible slingshot DDT onto the apron and had a multitude of fun exchanges with both Ospreay and Eagles. The match found its story in the latter stages with Eagles started attacking the knee which paid off in the finish. As the tournament’s highlight, this is worth checking out.
Atsuki Aoyagi vs Hokuto Omori
The two debuted only a couple months apart, Omori having only twenty-five more matches on his resume, but the crowd were fully behind Aoyagi. He took the brunt of the punishment, had a dropkick flurry and a vertical suplex before being put away. A match that made you want to see Aoyagi get more offense in so their goal was accomplished.
Dan Tamura vs Koji Iwamoto
Tamura has a few less matches under his belt than both Aoyagi and Omori but he’s put it together faster than those two. He looks to be bulking up, nearly at the size of Iwamoto. His fire was the big takeaway from the match. Iwamoto put down his flurry quickly and with ease. Fired up Tamura is something to keep an eye on.
Naoya Nomura vs Yusuke Okada – Recommended
Heavyweight versus junior battle as the smaller Okada showed no fear in Nomura, taking the abuse and kept coming back at him. Okada is a class above all the other rookies so he’s much more polished and his size compared to Nomura isn’t too big. In fact it’s close enough that I can see them pushing him up to the heavyweight division at some point. Nomura did great at keeping the pace up and Okada had no probably firing back. This was a strong match that put the future on the company on display.
Hikaru Sato, Suwama & Shuji Ishikawa vs Kento Miyahara, Yoshitatsu & Yuma Aoyagi
The majority of the match saw Kento gooning it up on Sato who was representing his home prefecture of Okayama. Kento did his best to garner a negative reaction to varying levels of success but never a full boo. The man the why people come to the building. Sato finally started gaining support when trapping Yuma in various holds and since it’s his home turf, Yuma was the one to take the fall instead. Not much to the match but the crowd got to see their favorites so they went home happy.
Atsuki Aoyagi vs Hokuto Omori – Recommended
A rematch from the night before, this time with 600 more people in attendance. Aoyagi got a better jump on Omori, catching him with a top rope dropkick and locking in the Boston Crab. Once Omori got to the ropes, he connects with a flurry of forearms, follows up with a crab of his own and before Aoyagi can make it back to his feet Omori deadlifts him into a German suplex for the win. Much more competitive than the night before but it’s a rookie match so don’t expect too much.
Dan Tamura vs Eisa8
Eisa8 is a freelancer who’s spent most of his career in Okinawa Pro. This was my first time seeing him. Tamura, as an AJPW rookie, was here to take the fall. He landed a few strikes, sidestepped a top rope dive but missed one of his own in return. Eisa8 peppered Tamura with knee strikes before landing a pair off the top rope for the win. A nothing squash match. Tamura didn’t show much and Eisa8 didn’t leave much of an impression.
Jake Lee & Koji Iwamoto vs Katsumi Oribe & Kazuaki Mihara – Recommended
Oribe and Mihara are another two I hadn’t seen before. They are apparently from Dotonbori Pro which runs out of Osaka, the prefecture where this show took place, and as such were heavy crowd favorites. I didn’t expect Lee and Iwamoto to be placed in the heel role but they took to it with smiles on their faces. Oribe and Mihara are a lot of fun. Mihara is a bowling ball of a man and Oribe is a karate guy so there were plenty of kicks and shoulder tackles. By the end of the match I was rooting for these guys to pin the All Asia Tag Champions so we could see a rematch but that wasn’t the case. Really solid match worth checking out.
Kento Miyahara, Yoshitatsu & Yuma Aoyagi vs Ryoji Sai, The Bodyguard & TORU
They paired Kento against a trio from Osaka so when the crowd chants for Bodyguard, Kento teases storming off until the crowd calls him back. I don’t recall seeing TORU before and I almost decided against this match because I thought it was TARU. Like all Kento house show tags, most of the entertainment comes from him playing off the crowd and referee. Outside of that there wasn’t much here to see.
Atsushi Maruyama & Zeus vs GAINA & HUB
AJPW put their Osaka born against two outsiders for the main event. This show was billed as the “Zeus Festival” so there was no doubt that the Osaka native was going over. If Mihara is bowling ball, GAINA is a wrecking ball. The man is thick. I’ve seen HUB pop up in ZERO1 so I knew what to expect from him. The match built to a showdown between Zeus and GAINA and their exchanges were the highlight but not enough to earn a recommendation.
Birds of Prey vs Volador Jr. & Titán
Naoya Nomura vs Yusuke Okada
Atsuki Aoyagi vs Hokuto Omori
Jake Lee & Koji Iwamoto vs Katsumi Oribe & Kazuaki Mihara